The tussle for top EU jobs got under way Monday after European Parliament elections delivered a fragmented result, with gains for eurosceptic and green parties as the traditional mainstream groups took a hit.
The main centre-right and centre-left groups lost their combined majority in the 751-seat parliament in the face of a challenge by eurosceptic and nationalist forces of Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini and Nigel Farage although the populist wave was less than some had predicted.
There were big wins for the Greens, who posted double digit scores across Europe’s biggest countries, and the Liberals, with both parties likely to play a major role in any future parliamentary coalition.
Each previous EU election since the first in 1979 has seen turnout fall, but figures from across the 28-nation bloc were at a 20-year high of 51 percent, suggesting this year’s culture clash has mobilised both populists and those who oppose them.
Boosted by French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Movement, the Liberal ALDE group will finish with more than 100 seats, and it is expected to push hard to win the plum European Commission presidency for its candidate Margrethe Vestager.
Britain will send a large contingent of eurosceptic MEPs to a parliament they want to leave in a few months, after Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party trounced the main parties, while Salvini’s League was Italy’s biggest party and Le Pen’s National Rally squeaked ahead of Macron.